A television production coordinator is responsible for the administration, organisation and secretarial work involved in producing a television programme. While duties vary from production to production, the work includes:
- assisting actors and the crew;
- issuing scripts;
- organising equipment and supplies;
- dealing with travel and accommodation bookings;
- sorting out enquiries and other paperwork.
A production coordinator may work on different kinds of programmes, such as news and current affairs, reality television shows, soap operas, dramas and comedies. They are usually involved at all stages of a project, working alongside everyone from early stages until completion.
Production coordinators can specialise in one particular area of assistance or be known by other names, such as:
- production assistant;
- script supervisor;
- production secretary.
The work varies depending on the actual role and the size and type of production company. In general however, tasks carried out by a production coordinator include:
- attending production meetings;
- helping to set up the production office with the necessary supplies;
- typing, editing, copying and distributing scripts;
- organising travel arrangements for cast, crew and production executives;
- organising accommodation for cast and crew;
- typing and distributing schedules, or call sheets
- assisting cast members, and at times running errands for them;
- running errands between the production office and other departments;
- dealing with accounts and expenses;
- setting up relevant insurance cover and helping with visas for cast and crew;
- closing accounts with suppliers and dealing with surplus stock when the production is finished.
Coordinators can also be involved in:
- checking running orders and scripts;
- keeping track of timings during a programme;
- setting up pre-recorded material in the studio gallery;
- making schedules, shot lists, logs and other paperwork for post-production.
- Many television production coordinators are freelance and are paid on a contract basis. Day rates of around £138 and weekly rates of £551 are suggested by the Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU).
- It's possible to achieve salaries in the region of £26,000, rising to over £35,000 with increasing experience.
- The average salary for production coordinators is given as £31,200 in the Televisual Salary Survey of 2015.
Income figures are intended as a guide only.
Work hours tend to be irregular, long and include travel. Most production coordinators work shifts and weekends, depending on the production, and they often arrive first and leave last.
Career breaks are possible, but time away can often result in missed opportunities.
What to expect
- The work is demanding, unpredictable and largely contract based so it is often difficult to plan ahead, which can impact on lifestyle.
- Shoots take place in a range of settings including indoors in offices and studios as well as outdoors on location in all weathers. The work may involve waiting around for long periods of time.
- Jobs with production companies are mainly in London and the South East. Although many BBC and ITV jobs are based in London, there are growing opportunities in the UK's larger cities, especially Manchester since the opening of MediaCityUK at Salford Quays.
- Travel within a working day is common. Outside broadcasts (OBs) and location shoots may involve working away regularly or for fairly long periods of time, either in the UK or abroad.
- Overseas travel is also possible and production coordinators can spend short or long periods of time away from home.
This area of work is open to all graduates. No specific qualifications are required but the industry is competitive and many production coordinators do have degrees.
It is important to have enthusiasm to succeed in the television industry and the ability to network is important, so that you can build up useful contacts that may lead to work opportunities.
A postgraduate course can help increase your practical skills, although it is not considered essential. With media qualifications, it is always important to ask about accreditation by industry bodies, as well as opportunities for placements and using equipment.
Search for postgraduate courses in television production.
You will need to have:
- excellent communication and interpersonal skills;
- the ability to work effectively as part of a team and alone;
- stamina, persistence, enthusiasm, motivation and a proactive manner;
- the ability to remain calm and level-headed under pressure;
- initiative, flexibility, adaptability, common sense and problem-solving skills;
- sound administrative and organisational skills;
- a good level of numeracy and fast, accurate word-processing skills;
- the ability to prioritise and cope with last-minute changes (e.g. to scripts) while under pressure.
Media experience is crucial. It is possible to gain experience from your course, university television unit or filmmaking society.
Volunteering on a local community film project or the local hospital radio station, entering media competitions, applying for awards and building up a portfolio of work will all help.
Networking and persistence is vital for hearing about opportunities. Getting work experience within a production company or local TV station will give you the skills that employers require but will also allow you to hear about potential internal vacancies.
The BBC offers a limited number of work experience placements, for which competition is fierce. These can be viewed at BBC Work Experience. Channel 4 also has various work experience programmes and you can find out more at 4Talent.
You may need to contact companies a number of times to ask about work experience or jobs. The timing of your application and their recruitment needs will affect whether you are successful. You can find contact details of production companies in key industry resources such as:
It is a good idea to keep up to date with industry news by reading the media press, such as Broadcast.
Within the UK television industry the main broadcasters include BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, and hundreds of cable and satellite broadcasters, such as BSkyB (British Sky Broadcasting Group).
Although many of the larger broadcasters make TV programmes themselves, they also use independent production companies for a portion of their shows.
Jobs with production companies are usually found in London and the South East but there are regional bases as well, for example there is BBC Cymru which has locations throughout Wales.
Independent production companies include HIT Entertainment, Tiger Aspect and Endemol UK, plus hundreds of smaller independent companies, based mainly in London, which mostly recruit freelancers. Many of these 'indies' belong to the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT).
Look for job vacancies at:
Most vacancies are not advertised externally, so proactively sending CVs with covering letters, making regular follow-up calls, getting work experience and having contacts in the industry will make all the difference. Make speculative applications and find contact details through resources such as:
Television production coordinators receive most of their training on the job by shadowing experienced coordinators and attending training sessions organised by the production company.
In some companies, particularly larger ones, training opportunities are almost exclusively internally provided.
A variety of external short courses are available that cover relevant topics, as well as HNDs or postgraduate courses in subjects such as creative media production. You can search for these courses in the Creative Skillset Courses Directory.
A number of training organisations offer additional training for media professionals:
- BBC Academy - includes the College of Production and offers courses and online training in broadcasting and new media.
- Creative Skillset: The Sector Skills Council for the Creative Industries - has a pool of money to subsidise training for creative professionals.
- Cyfle - the training company for the creative industries in Wales, offers a range of production-based courses.
It is likely that you will start out as a runner or trainee before moving into the job role of production coordinator. The television industry is competitive and you will need to be prepared to work your way up.
There is no structured route for career development and the fact that most production coordinators work freelance makes it even more unpredictable. Your career progression will depend on your networking skills, persistence and motivation, even during times of unemployment.
Success often comes through seizing opportunities, making a positive impression, knowing the right people, and being in the right place at the right time. You need to show that you are constantly developing more skills and have picked up a lot of experience along the way.
It is important to contact companies on a regular basis to find out whether opportunities have arisen. Many companies will rarely advertise externally.
You can progress to roles such as senior production coordinator or production manager, focusing more on financial management and handling budgets. You may also move into another role within TV such as:
- assistant director;
- floor manager;
- unit manager;
- location manager;
- vision mixer.